Over the last two years, TEP has been providing Landscape and Visual expertise to National Grid in the preparation of a Development Consent Order for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). The Richborough Connection Project comprises a proposed 20km of overhead electricity transmission line between Canterbury and Richborough, in Kent. The purpose of the project is to provide a connection for the Nemo Link, a consented project involving the laying of high voltage electricity cables under the north sea, improving the link between the UK and European electricity generation. The interconnector will terminate at a new converter station at the site of the former Richborough Power Station on the east coast of Kent and from here requires a connection into the national grid.
Early studies were undertaken to identify the most appropriate strategic connection option prior to settling on a preferred route. The study area for the project covered a diverse landscape between Canterbury and Ramsgate with some important designated wildlife sites, ancient woodlands, varied topography, agricultural land, orchards, settlements and some significant heritage assets.
TEP’s landscape architects played an important role in the investigation of suitable routes and the most appropriate design for the supporting structures using an environment-led approach. This has involved extensive mapping of designated sites, site surveys and consultation with key stakeholders. TEP used National Grid’s options appraisal method to recommend a preferred corridor; and identify how to mitigate adverse impacts.
During 2015 TEP prepared the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) for the preferred route along with mitigation proposals designed to eliminate or reduce adverse effects on the landscape and on views. TEP prepared over 40 Verified Photomontages to support the LVIA and undertook a cumulative landscape and visual assessment of other consented schemes in the area. TEP undertook tree surveys throughout the 20km route corridor and prepared an Arboriculture Impact Assessment. We provided valuable stakeholder consultation throughout the EIA process with both statutory consultees, landowners and members of the public. Statements of Common Ground were prepared and signed between National Grid and the local Councils, the Woodland Trust and the North Kent Downs AONB Unit.
Following submission of the DCO application in January 2016, the project underwent Examination, and TEP provided expert witness support at Hearings and advice on all matters relating to landscape and views, and arboriculture. The Examination closed in December 2016, following which the Planning Inspectorate prepared their report and recommendations. The decision to approve was announced by the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in August 2017. National Grid has now started work to construct the overhead line and TEP is providing Arboriculture and Landscape Clerk of Works services to ensure that works to trees and mitigation planting is undertaken in accordance with the DCO Requirements.